Free range chicken houses are not really used much in South Africa. And that is for layers or broilers! Most South African farmers prefer to use a closed poultry houses - keeping the chickens cooped, which makes the whole process of egg production and broiler production much easier. Free range chicken houses, chicken coops, and hen houses, are available from only a few poultry house manufacturers.. Whist most of these chicken coop houses are not "closed environment"- they are closed in the sense that the birds are kept inside the hen houses chicken coops.
If you wish to call your eggs or broilers "free range" though, you will need a free range chicken house. Your chickens will need to be able to access the outside - see the sky and feel the wind while they forage - like they did before production farming. The regulations are quite clear on what constitutes "free range" - and this is very different from "organic farming". Many people do not know the difference when they see the labels on packaging - whether that is on egg boxes or the chicken meat. The suppliers of free range and organic do not make it any easier using terms like "grain fed" and "barn eggs" These kinds of descriptive labels mean nothing in South Africa, and are merely a way to sell more products. A grain fed chicken can be kept in a factory farm, as can a hen laying barn eggs. While the South African public is concerned with how the poultry is produced, many find it confusing. Organic chicken, for instance, means that the chickens and hens have a certain amount of space inside the chicken coop and outside in the chicken run, and that they are fed a diet which is organic in itself. The reason there are so few organic suppliers in South Africa is that all of the chicken feed that is commercially produced is non organic. A poultry farmer wishing to offer organic eggs will have to grow their own vegetables and corn to make organic feed for the hens and chickens. As such there are not many. Free range on the other hand has no such stipulations about the kind of food that the birds are fed - commercial grain and chicken feed is acceptable - but the public should know that all feed in S.A. has some kind of hormones and the source of such feed is from farmers who use sprays and poisons on their crops. GMO has wormed it's way into a lot of South Africa's food supply.
Free range eggs will bring you a premium when selling your free range eggs and free range chickens. This is because the public supports kind farming practises. The cost of producing a free range egg or chicken is higher than a factory farmed product - more space is required, more labour and managing disease etc. is a bigger challenge.
The free range chicken houses that we build are very similar to our Yellow door house - with one change. Underneath the curtains where the steel sheet is, we build in access flaps. The steel section under the curtains can be raised in sections to allow the birds exit and entry into the poultry house. You will need to fence yourhen houses chicken coops with 2 meter mesh so the chickens do not stray or fly over the fence, and they are protected from predators. Allowing your birds to access the natural environment brings it's own problems - wild birds will eventually find a way into your chicken coop.The benifits of free range eggs numerous - not least of all the humane treatment of poultry. The eggs are more healthy as is the chicken meat. Remember that hens are not vegetarians - they are naturally meat eaters - like most other predatory birds - they will eat lizards, mice and even small snakes. They also eat vegetables - which a grain fed chicken will not - this is what gives the eggs the lovely orange colour - vegetables like carrots andspinach are a real treat for any chicken. Flowers like marigolds, funny enough, are also loved by chickens. For smaller home chicken coops and hen houses, or small chicken houses you can send us an email and we will give you a quote.
We build these cheap chicken houses all over South Africa - even in remote places. If you are interested in starting a small chicken farm - or even a large poultry farm, we can help you with the structure and all the poultry equipment. We can point you to the right people to buy chickens from and where to get the medication from. We will come out to the site and advise the best way to set up the farm - which way the houses should face and where the silos and water sources should be.